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Security Government

Russian Federal Guard Service "Upgrades" To Electric Typewriters 163

Posted by timothy
from the you'll-need-some-cyrillic-white-out dept.
Razgorov Prikazka writes "The Russian Federal Guard Service (FSO), who are in charge of protecting high level politicians like president Putin (amongst others), are 'upgrading' to electric typewriters for writing sensitive documents. They have found out that computers pose a security risk and this is their answer to it. On first sight this seems like a very pragmatic and cost-efficient thing to do. However, the FSO has its roots in the KGB and those were the ones who placed keystroke loggers on the popular IBM Selectric electric typewriter 40 years ago! So how much safer does this make them?"
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Russian Federal Guard Service "Upgrades" To Electric Typewriters

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  • How much safer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schneidafunk (795759) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:39AM (#44251209)
    I suspect having a device that has only one purpose, as compared to a computer, it is much less likely to be compromised and much easier to detect.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:40AM (#44251227)

    To place a keylogger on a typewriter you need physical access to the typewriter... to place a keylogger on a computer you need the internet...

    I can see the advantage...

  • Nothing is safe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @11:43AM (#44251269)

    When your opponent has access to your hardware, you've already lost. That's true whether its a mechanical typewriter, electric typewriter, or a computer.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @12:51PM (#44252189) Homepage Journal

    ... is always people. Even if is just by stupidity (like going to one of those meetings with a cellphone), but could be plain malice, double agents or blackmailed "safe" people (and with all the data of the world you have plenty of material to blackmail anyone).

    And thats the most worrying thing about NSA and associates snooping, you are getting 5 millon extra vulnerabilities [salon.com] in everything that surrounds all your data.

  • Re:How much safer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:11PM (#44252501)

    I don't think they got seriously more secure than using a computer with physically destroyed USB and ethernet ports.

    I think it's hard to reliably destroy the USB ports for someone that has physical access to the machine and is motivated to get data off - USB is integrated into the core logic chips on the motherboard, so even if you destroy the actual ports, someone could tap into the traces on the motherboard to access the port. Though I guess if he has that much access to the machine, he'd just find a way to write it unencrypted to the hard drive and would take the hard drive with him. (I know there are operating system controls that make it hard to use USB ports or write data where it shouldn't go, but those controls can be bypassed)

    If he can find a way to run a binary on the machine, then it's even easier to get data off -- he can just have his app flash QR codes on the screen at 15 frames per second and record it with a camera to get a 45kbyte/sec stream of data. With a good camera and a high res screen he can probably achieve much higher bitrates.

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.

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